Jared Kushner Has Won and The New York Times Knows It

While reading the New York Times long interview with Jared Kushner this week, I felt something unfamiliar: defeat.

I don’t know how else to say this but it’s time to face the reality: Jared Kushner has won.

It seems clear to me that he’s the single biggest winner from the Trump White House, not just financially but, staggeringly, reputationally.

In the last three or more years he’s swung from being a social pariah — unwelcome in New York and in many blue-chip business circles, as well as being investigated by various committees in Congress for the appearance of conflicts of interests — to a figure of both media fascination and global influence. He’s even become someone the elites in politics and in “mainstream media” need to suck up to.

That’s because in addition to raising $3 billion-worth of foreign investments – many from foreign governments’ funds – at a scale and speed that, according to the Times, is unprecedented for a former White House Advisor, this last year has seen Kushner become an international Svengali at lightning pace.

He brokered a meeting in New York between the Prime Minister of Qatar and some of New York’s most important businessmen; he advises the Trump think tank, America First, on policies for a potential second Trump administration; he was in Israel with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and visited the site of the October 7 attacks; he sounded off on Fox News about the problems with the First Amendment on college campuses; he appeared for a three hour interview on the Lex Fridman Podcast – a calculated PR strategy, which worked, or so he told the Times, because it attracted new potential investors to his fund from the Silicon Valley crowd who listen to Fridman. He’s spoken at numerous business conferences and he makes sure to keep up regularly with his buddy, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Socially, he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, go to so many grand parties they are like Waldo in that world. They’ve popped up almost weekly at the world’s most lavish celebrations in India, California, and the Middle East, where they hobnobbed with the Prince and Princess of Wales. (Ivanka also showed up for Kim Kardashian’s birthday party. Whether that puts her up or down on the snakes and ladders board is, I guess, subjective.)

But what struck me about this latest New York Times profile of Kushner is how he’s even got the Times so obviously under his thumb.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

The Problem With Netflix’s Scoop?

Over the weekend, I watched Scoop, Netflix’s take on the car-crash of a TV interviewgiven by Prince Andrew about the allegations concerning himself, Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Giuffre.

The movie was entertaining enough, but, for my money, it misfired on two subjects.

First, Prince Andrew himself. As played excellently by Rufus Sewell, the movie aptly captures the Prince’s vanity, frustrations and the bubble-wrap of privilege around him, giving rise to that disastrous interview. After which he announced he’d step back from his royal duties.

But let’s not forget that he wasn’t actually stripped of his royal titles and essentially exiled until years later, in 2022, and for something far more serious than pomposity. That’s something that does not get mentioned in Scoop. Namely that Ms. Giuffre sued him for sexual abuse when she was a minor and he settled with her for an undisclosed sum and it was THAT embarrassment, ahead of the Queen’s Golden Jubileecelebrations, that caused his death-knell.

For whatever reason Scoop doesn’t want to go there, a far darker place than the frills and furbelows of Buckingham Palace.

But the second thing I found deeply disconcerting – worse actually – were the not-so veiled digs at Emily Maitlis, the dogged News Night anchor whose persistence and penetrating, unflinching gaze were really what undid the Prince during that interview.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

Could Putin or his Oligarchs invest in Kushner’s Balkan Development Deal?

Below is an edited transcript of the conversation I had yesterday with Richard Painter, Bush White House Ethics Czar, about news reports that Jared Kushner, along with former special envoy to the Balkans and acting Director of National Intelligence (and rumored candidate for Secretary of State) Ric Grenell, are on the verge of doing several real estate deals in the Balkans.

Readers of this newsletter know that Richard and I often discuss the perception of conflicts of interest around Jared Kushner and the Trump Administration.

I would also like to point out that the idea of a 99-year-lease, as Jared is now positing in Belgrade, is not new for the Kushners. As I reported in Kushner, Inc. the 99-year-lease is the mechanism by which Jared’s father, Charles, solved the problem of the enormous $1.4 billion loan due on 666 Fifth Avenue in 2018. As you may recall, the clock was ticking like a time-bomb when Jared entered the Trump White House, quickly becoming the “Secretary of Everything” – including US foreign policy. The Kushners knew they were reliant on a foreign buyer for the building, because American developers did not think 666 Fifth Avenue was worth anything close to $1.4 billion. A partner of the Kushners’ even said it would be worth more “if it was dirt”.

It’s not a good thing, to put it mildly, when someone in government, is economically dependent on foreign investors.

As I reported, the Canadian firm, Brookfield Asset Management (whose second largest shareholder is the government of Qatar) ultimately solved the Kushner’s headache and in the nick of time, leased the building for 99 years, paying all the rent up front, in a deal widely perceived as uneconomic. The appearance of a conflict, given Jared’s White House role, subsequently caused an investigation by Congress, because as the deal was being negotiated, the US withdrew its support of a Saudi/Emirati blockade of Qatar. (Kushner has denied any wrongdoing.)

Richard Painter points out there could be even more problematic conflicts with a Kushner development deal in Serbia, given the war in Ukraine. Even if Kushner doesn’t go into a second Trump Administration, he is nonetheless Trump’s son-in-law. And Grenell is being talked about in Republican circles as a future Secretary of State.

Painter zeroed in on a potential risk regarding possible dark money in the deal from Russia and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The Russians have long regarded the Balkans as a critical region to wield soft power. A deal struck by an American president’s son-in-law in Serbia, could be viewed as pro-Russia at a critical point in the Ukraine conflict. Serbia has not supported the EU’s sanctions on Russia. Kushner told the New York Times on Sunday that he understood the risks attached to his high-profile position. “Everything has to be completely above board,” he told the Times.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

Thoughts On Ghislaine Maxwell’s Appeal

First off, thank you everyone for bearing with me. These past weeks, I have not been posting here because I’ve been working on the book I’m co-writing with James Patterson about the Moscow Murders. I’ll be back soon enough!

It’s very hard, if not impossible, I find, to immerse yourself in deep storytelling on too many fronts at once. You can certainly write multiple things that are top-of-mind, and bounce off of the news, but as you know, I prefer, when possible, to bring you reporting, not just insights.

But, given that Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial was the genesis of this newsletter, I did want to give you my thoughts about Maxwell’s appeal. Oral arguments were made last Tuesday in New York. Maxwell was not present but reportedly listened in on the phone from prison in Florida.

The main argument made by Maxwell’s defense was that Maxwell was protected by the strange, controversial Non-Prosecution Agreement of 2007, entered into by Epstein and then U.S. attorney in Florida Alexander Acosta, in which Epstein agreed to plead guilty to two state counts: procuring a minor for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute. In exchange he got a cushy sentence and avoided the much more serious potential charges of a federal investigation.

However there was a crucial clause in the NPA in which Epstein asked that no one else be charged with his crimes, for which he took sole responsibility.

“The United States also agrees that it will not institute any criminal charges against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein, including but not limited to Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff or Nadia Marcinkova.”

He did not name Maxwell.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

A Time To Kill

What a welcome change from Epstein-related material, to read Ilium, a new literary spy-thriller by a very old, dear friend, Lea Carpenter, whose elevated prose-style is joyous to read. Like all the best writers, Lea uses the particular – a young, single impecunious British woman, whose parents are dead, and who is unwittingly recruited as a CIA asset – to tell a universal story about all the shades of grey that compose humanity. And war.

With nods to Greek mythology, Carpenter’s suspenseful tale of international espionage and revenge deliberately refuses to pinpoint one side as good and the other side as bad. What she’s interested in highlighting is complexity. How people on both sides are capable of ugliness, brutality, deception, but also love and compassion. Simultaneously.

Even the book’s title Ilium – the code name given to the spy operation Carpenter’s heroine finds herself recruited to – is a wry sleight of hand. Given the obsession one of the main characters has with the Iliad and the parallels, in particular, between the story of the Trojan Horse and the way in which Carpenter’s protagonist must pose as something she is not in order to inveigle herself into the bosom of a family she is to betray, readers are tempted for much of the book to think that they understand the double-entendre.

But no. Carpenter takes her time to reveal that the hidden meaning lies outside Greek mythology. In fact: “Ilium was a scriptural reference to the biblical idea that there is a ‘time to kill.’ That there is such a thing as moral vengeance…”

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

Demolition Day

It sat there grotesquely in the midst of the daily hubbub of college life, sticking out on the rise of a slope like a fat middle finger on the hand of a school bully.

Given the elevation, it was hard to go about campus and escape its demonic glare. You could see it from the lower field. You could see it from the Sigma Chi fraternity house and the other frat houses speckled along Nez Perce Drive, the road, named after the local Native American tribe, that winds its away across the college past the residences to the golf course and then the Kibbie Dome. Some of the students pointed out that, unfortunately, you could see it even from some of the classrooms.

1122 King Road, Moscow, Idaho. A one-time regular student house that morphed, overnight, into a house of horrors. In the pre-dawn hours of November 13, 2022, four of its six occupants — Maddie Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin — were brutally murdered. Tall poppies felled before they’d even properly bloomed. Locals still don’t know why.

Every day the house stood since, has felt like a day too long to those in its shade. There are some degrees of evil of which it’s unbearable to be reminded. The boarded-up windows, 24-7 security and the police tape around the house did little to soften the nightmare of what had happened there.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

The Epstein Story Gets Even Darker

To:​ Vicky Ward​

Fri 11/22/2019 1:08 PM

I met Mr. Epstein in 2008 not long before he was sentenced to  jail and since I personally can name businessmen  in Russia who were having sex with 14-15 year-old girls and doing it on a regular basis, I didn’t understand why he was charged and sentenced to jail. 

I received this email (spelling and grammar have been corrected for clarity) in 2019. It came from one of the Russian models referenced in the sobering article in last night’s Wall Street Journal describing how Jeffrey Epstein continued to manipulate vulnerable women long after his jail-time in 2009.

This is something that the numerous plutocrats of Epstein’s acquaintance preferred to either not know or not mention, as is referenced in the article. This suggests many in his influential circle abetted what amounted to a continuation of the sex-trafficking ring he’d begun in the 1990s. The difference in his post-jail life was that he sought out mostly Eastern European immigrants, many of them models.

Reading the article, I was reminded of what the Russian model had said to me in 2019, soon after Epstein’s death. And what she’d written to me in that startling email above — The sexual abuse she’d suffered at just 14 in her native Russia was commonplace. In many Eastern European countries the age of consent is 14.

This meant that at the time she told me she didn’t comprehend the scale of Epstein’s evilness. I recall that at one point she told me with, I hate to say, almost pride that “not one of the women suing Epstein is from Eastern Europe.” Her implication was that they weren’t going to complain publicly about Epstein’s insidious crimes because that sort of behavior was normalized culturally back home.

Well, per the Journal, that has changed.

The article by Khadeeja Safdar is a piece of terrific reportage, piecing together conversations, emails, and discovery from the recent litigation involving Epstein victims and Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. (The banks settled.)

The statistics she reports are shocking. Two lawyers involved in the class action suits against the banks told Safdar that they’ve interviewed 130 Epstein accusers. Fifty-five of the women said they only met him after his conviction in 2008. Forty-five of the fifty-five are from Eastern Europe. One lawyer said that the women have identified twenty men to whom Epstein allegedly sent them for sex. The names of the men are not publicized in the piece.

Here’s the clever thing: in his last decade Epstein flaunted what he was doing in public. And that cover was remarkably effective.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

Journalism Is Not Dead!

Last night I attended a symposium at NYU Skirball Center about the future of journalism and its role in a polarized world.

I went because my close friend Tina Brown was talking and this is a topic I care about passionately. Traditional journalism, let’s face it, is in crisis. Deep-dives are expensive and newsrooms are shrinking and cutting budgets.

As I listened, I felt so grateful to all of you for supporting my work here. And so grateful for the Substack platform and for the direct dialogue I am able to have with all of you. I don’t just learn from my sources. I learn from you, especially when you write me. I learn from the people who tell me they hate what I write. That’s OK. I’m eager to learn and to discuss. The one thing worse for democracy than a heated, over-the-top conversation is no conversation at all. Thus, the danger of living in a country as polarized as this one is that the Right and the Left don’t talk to each other. One looks down on the other and vice versa. Each thinks they are in possession of true facts and the other team is deluded.

I’ve felt the division keenly recently because I’ve been spending a great teal of time far from New York in the Pacific North West reporting for the book I’m writing with James Patterson about the awful murders in Moscow, Idaho.

Moscow is a mostly liberal town, but Idaho, as you know, is deeply Republican. Many of the people I’ve interviewed bring their guns into the room with them.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates 

Why Kushner Held a Private Meeting with Billionaires and the Qatari PM

Axios had a fantastic scoop this morning. Barak Ravid, the Israeli journalist whom CNNhas also just (smartly) hired as an on-air analyst, reported that last Wednesday Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump held a private lunch meeting at Coco’s, a member’s-only club restaurant in the General Motors Building in New York. At this meeting, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani addressed a group of plutocrats, many of whom were Jewish.

According to the report, Al Thani walked through the background behind Qatar’s close relationship with Hamas over the years, saying that the relationship was, in fact, supported by the US who’d wanted an open channel to Gaza. He added that the billions sent to Gaza in the last five years were coordinated with Israel.

I phoned some of my well-placed Middle East sources to ask what was really going on here seeing as the Qataris and Jared Kushner have a relationship that is – to put it mildly – controversial.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates 

The Kushner Family, Alan Dershowitz, and Trump White House Pardons

So, in Sunday’s New York Times there was a very long, detailed article about a seemingly very strange Trump White House pardon to a young man, Jonathan Braun, who had ties to the Kushner family. According to The Times, Braun was serving a 10-year sentence for trafficking marijuana and cooperating with a federal investigation, when the pardon came down the pike. As a result the government lost a key witness and a major investigation into predatory lending was stalled. Reportedly, Jared Kushner had been heavily involved in lobbying for Braun’s pardon. Kushner declined to comment.

The article reported how Braun had been in the same class as Nicole Kushner, Jared’s younger sister, at Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, NJ. One of the school’s main benefactors is Kushner’s father, Charles, who hung up the phone when contacted by The New York Times.

The article also reported the involvement of lawyer Alan Dershowitz. I remembered Dershowitz’s involvement — and direct line to Kushner advisor Avi Berkowitz — in another Trump White House pardon (commutation, to be precise), that of kosher meat kingpin, Sholom Rubashkin. (I broke this story for CNN in 2019. The story is linked below.)

This spurred me to phone Dershowitz.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates